The Mariners just can’t catch a break. They didn’t even get a day to celebrate the 11-2 shellacking of the Angels before the news broke that James Paxton would be placed on the 10-day DL with forearm tightness.
This comes as a little bit of a surprise to Mariners fans, as Paxton was not considered injured after pitching Tuesday. In hindsight though, his command was not as sharp as it has been at other points this year, and that could be due to the injury.
In a rotation already beleaguered by injuries to Drew Smyly and Felix Hernandez, the blow to Paxton is a crushing one. On the season, Paxton has posted a 1.43 ERA, boasts a 0.982 WHIP, and has 45 strikeouts in six starts. With a WAR of 1.6, it’s not exactly feasible for the Mariners to just replace him.
Tacoma is likely where we’ll find Paxton’s interim. As this is typically the stop Dipoto will make before trying to find an outside option.
This is likely the first name that will come to most minds. We’ve seen him this year. He’s been up and down with the team and maybe he’ll get the call up and fill in for Paxton. The problem is, this is a really bad move. Heston is a AAAA player. Good enough to get a call up, but not good enough to stay in the big leagues. In his two innings of relief work this year, he has a 22.50 ERA. That’s obviously a skewed sample, but aside from his 2015 campaign where he tossed a no-hitter, he’s been quiet at in the big-leagues. He’s a career 4.36 ERA pitcher, whose stuff is pretty average. Yet he doesn’t seem like the answer for the Mariners.
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Also at Tacoma is Rob Whalen. Whalen was acquired in the offseason from the Braves. He was nursing an injury during spring training and just made his first start for Tacoma on Monday. He went 4.2 innings, gave up 6 hits and 0 runs. Whalen likely hasn’t spent enough time at Tacoma to be called up, but who knows.
Dipoto could try and make a trade, and I think there are a fair share of Mariners fans who would like to see a more reliable starter brought to Seattle. I’ve heard the name Jason Vargas topping some fans’ wish lists.
Ultimately, with Paxton only expected to miss one, maybe two starts, I think Dipoto will work with what he has. Here’s to Paxton making a full, speedy recovery and coming back as good as ever.